We all know Uncle Bob: the man, the myth, the photobombing, shot-blocking, wedding-wrecking legend! Turns out, when he purchased his first digital camera back in 2001, he also launched a blog!
For your enjoyment and inspiration, here are a few excerpts from the personal blog of Uncle Bob, Uncle Bob’s Camera.
March 2001: Retirement and My First DSLR: The Canon Rebel!
Yesterday was my last day at the bank! Retirement is one of those things I’ve been looking forward to for 35 years, but the closer it got, the less certain I was about it. Will I be happy? Will I find fulfillment? Will I have a purpose? Thanks to my career and the bank’s generous retirement package, we should be financially okay. But what about my soul? What’s a man to do?
Well, after much soul searching, I came up with a plan!
Today, I purchased a Canon Rebel EOS D30 DIGITAL CAMERA!!!!
I can’t get over how excited I am. Truly, this is a wonderful day. And this is not ordinary camera, this is a Digital Camera, in my hands!
This mean machine boasts 3.1 MEGA Pixels, and the EF lens mount means all those lenses I bought back when the kids were young will work with it! Just like that, I’m in business!
It was a little pricey, especially considering the fact that I’ll never charge anybody for my photography — I consider it my ministry — but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. When I look at the hobbies my friends are into, this seems far more practical than another set of golf clubs.
It’s March now, so we’re just at the opening bell of wedding season! We haven’t been invited to any weddings yet (not that I know of, I’ll have to ask Marsha), but hopefully an invite will come soon. I can’t WAIT to stretch my legs and snap a few frames of a bride and groom!
My goal is to always use my camera as a tool for good, to show love and kindness to my friends! With this new rig, I can hopefully capture something truly amazing and give it as a wedding gift!
This is going to be a great year!
October 2003: Exciting – first couple shoot!
This is an exciting day! Today, I am posting two of my first photos! The first is actually an accidental misfire, but I’m so pleased with how the bokay came out that I just have to share it! I call it “Self Portrait Shock!”
I know I’ve talked to many of you about my hopes to photograph a wedding one day, so you’ll be thrilled to learn that I have photographed a couple! They appear to be in love, which is the most beautiful thing in the world, and something I hope to capture again soon!
I shot this, but really wanted a closer photo, preferably with their faces, so I walked toward them. It was only then that I realized they had hired a photographer to capture their engagement! Well, this was a great opportunity for me to learn! So, I shadowed their photographer, and whenever he would line up for what I assume was a really great shot, I’d shoot it too!
Unfortunately, those shots didn’t turn out super great. But I’ve still got this one! I did have one photo turn out pretty neat – it was actually a shot of the back of the photographer’s camera! However, he informed me that I couldn’t share that as my own, and threatened legal action.
Whoa there, guy! I’m just here having some fun, trying to do something good and kind for this beautiful couple! Anyway, he kind of forced me to delete it, so that was that. Wish you could see it – it was a real award winning photo that I took!
June 2004: First Wedding Photos!
They say if you want something bad enough, you have to get out there and work for it! Well, that’s what I’ve done! First I bought this awesome camera. Next I kept my eyes open for wedding couples I could photograph!
Last year, I came across that couple being photographed during some sort of engagement. I got a photo of it, and was really proud. Their photographer was a bit brusque, but I still came out with a great image to show for my efforts!
And just last night, while walking my dog Boopkis down at the park, I spied these two beauties posing for photos! Thank BOOPKIS I had my camera with me! While their for-money photographer was busy trying to tell them what to do, I came up from the other side and captured this amazing image.
So, clearly, I was on cloud 9! I walked Boopkis at that same park every day for a week, trying to time his potty time with the Golden Hour, maximizing my chances of happening upon another couple to serve. Well, I found a couple, and they were gorgeous! My heart was racing, and just as I raised my trusty Reb to take The Shot, I heard their photographer shouting at me!
The audacity! The unmitigated gall!
Well, I mean, I’m here to use my gifts to serve others, but I know when I’m not wanted. I kept trying to get one decent frame, though – until Boopkis got scared and yanked his leash out of my hands and ran away.
I looked up the photographer, his name was something like Colon…something, can’t remember. Anyway, I found THIS on his webpage: an image of ME, walking away, in hot pursuit of Boopkis! So, I guess it’s not a total loss. At least I got to participate in the creation of this amazing wedding photo – and that’s what it’s all about, really.
May 2005: It’s Official – I’m a Wedding Photographer!
Ok friends, family and fans, that last post was a bit of a downer. Sadly, Boopkis was injured by a passing bus, and my nerves are still rattled from nearly dropping my camera when he bolted. Phew – that was close!
But, good things come to those who wait. Just remember that. A coworker from Marsha’s work got married, and posted an open invitation at the office coffeemaker…so that means we’re going! (And by we, I mean me and my li’l Johnny Reb! That’s my nickname for my DSLR.)
This is officially my first wedding photo as a wedding photographer! And what’s most amazing is that I was able to get her email, email it to her, and she shared it to her Myspace before she even saw a single shot from her for-money photographer!
That’s what I call service!
I took this one as well, and it didn’t turn out too great. See that person in the background holding that white thing? Yeah, that’s their massive flip-phone, which they’re using to take photos of this wedding. Unbelievable. Totally ruined my shot – and there’s no way they got a decent megapixel out of a telephone. Novices, I tell ya!
July 2006: Two more couples under my belt!
So maybe they didn’t “know I was there.” And maybe they were “very offended” when I tried to send them this photo through her office email. Whatever. There’s nothing wrong with trying to do a good deed – but I guess it’s like they say, no good deed goes unpunished!
OK, and I have to be honest – I didn’t exactly “take this photo.” But also, I did! I visited a wedding fair, and took a photo of one of the photographers’ photo displays, and I think it turned out really great! I was even able to crop it above their logo! Still deciding if I should put this on my Myspace page.
April 2008: You’re blocking my shot…
Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged! Honestly, I’ve just been incredibly busy. Marsha and I bought that motor home, so we’ve been able to travel a lot more – and attend a LOT more WEDDINGS!
I’ve been playing with Photoshop and Lightroom, feeling really good about my editing skills. I think they’re going to be a huge asset in my ability to serve my friends and family (and strangers too) with my photo skills! This is my ministry.
Here’s an example of some retouching work I did. See how her skin just glows? I know, it’s hard to believe. I even added a few small freckles onto her back to keep that natural look!
Here’s a fun camera fact – my Big Reb (nickname for the new 60D) uses a bright green light to find its focus, and sometimes, that light goes off just when the for-profit photographer is about to take his shot. So, this isn’t my photo, but Jarod’s nose is nicely lit up with my green light!! How cool is that?!?
And I’m only posting this one because I was so angry that this woman with the telephone just insisted on standing up and shot-blocking me throughout the whole ceremony. With a telephone. Have some self-respect, lady! I mean, I might sometimes trip the for-profit photographer, but they’re getting paid, so that’s just an occupational hazard. I’m volunteering my time, my talent, my equipment and my vision here–for ministry–and all she wants to do is take photos for some new dumb thing called Facebooks. Duh – we already have a Myspace!
Anyway, I cropped her out of the final edit I shared with the b&g, and I think they really appreciated it! “I’m just here to serve,” is what I always say.
September 2013: Uncle Bob’s Photo Bomb!
It has been my privilege to attend three weddings Just This June!!! I did take some really fantastic photos, but what I really want to share is what a joy it is to participate in these weddings by being in the photos!
There is nothing as special as knowing that, years down the road, these couples will be looking back at their gorgeous leather-bound albums, and they’ll see ME! Their ol’ Uncle Bob’s shining face, smiling back at them!
August 2014: You May Now Kiss the Bridesmaid
In my ongoing quest to serve others and do good deeds with my camera, I have found a way to attend many more weddings than I ever thought possible. Are you ready for this? Just get older! I don’t know what else to attribute this to. Our kids aren’t married yet, but our nieces and nephews seem to be getting married left and right.
And they must have heard about my new DSLR, it’s called a D60, and it has mega-doubled my capacity to take great photos! That’s right, I’m now capturing the precious weddings of my unsuspecting nieces and nephews at a whopping 6.3-megapixels!
Here’s Marsha’s sister Florence’s oldest daughter. The officiant had just asked me to sit down. Her face is priceless!
Here’s my brother Ted’s son Teddy. I was crouching beside his for-profit photographer, and Teddy was grinning and whispering “Uncle Bob, pleeezh shtop” between his teeth. He’s always been such a joker!
I really debated about sharing this one, but it’s such a gorgeous image, I couldn’t resist. Turns out, this bridesmaid had a thing for one of the groomsmen, and after a couple beverages, she needed to get it off her chest. Even the troubadour in the back corner had to stop his crooning to see what was going down!
I call this one, “You may now kiss the Bridesmaid.”
September 2015: OMG I’m Famous! Now people what to shoot ME!
Many of you know that I’ve been doing this photography ‘hobby’ of mine now for nearly fifteen years, going to weddings and capturing special moments, giving them as gifts to the bride and groom.
And in all those years, I’ve had just a few unpleasant scrapes with the for-profit photographers. Though, to be honest, most of them just ignore me and let me do my ministry. Little did I know that at least one photographer out there actually loved what I do, and enjoyed capturing me in the act of serving the bride and groom! What an honor!
First I found this photo captured by the brilliant Joe Sanfilippo! He does really great work, and it’s such a joy to know that he enjoyed capturing me hard at work, serving this beautiful couple! I don’t even know their names, I just saw a pavilion full of people in suits, so I ran home and grabbed a camera, donned my best suit, and got to work!
This was a few years ago – look how black my hair was!
I came across this article on Digital Wedding Forum, which is a webpage I’ve enjoyed reading in the past. But never have I had the gumption to share my images. Looks like somebody did it for me! I remember this wedding well – and that couple will Never Forget what I did for them!
On our way from the wedding to the reception, Marsha and I pulled the motor home into a Costco parking lot, and I knocked out a quick-n-gritty album design – and then had it printed, right there at Costco! It was just a little 4×6 keepsake album, but we hand-delivered it just before they cut the cake. Talk about a positive reception! They were thrilled! Marsha said the for-profit photographer seemed a little miffed when he heard me tell them they didn’t even need to buy an album now that they have one!
But after reading this article about how much he enjoyed working with me, I think she must’ve misread him.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if you have a dream, go for it! Do you want to start a non-profit photography ministry in your retirement? If that’s your dream, do it! Do you love to do the impossible, then take your generous retirement and buy some pro gear, watch a few YouTube videos, set that puppy in Auto/JPEG mode, and get to work!
Look at this! There I was, poised to capture the perfect pose!
Hey, you’ll never achieve anything if you don’t take risks, right?
About the author: Levi Wiggins is one half of Harder+Wiggins, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee. He works with his wife Shayna as a photography writer. This article was also published at KISS University.